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Details & Cataloguing

In Context Italian Art

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Walter Leblanc
1932 - 1986
TORSIONS MOBILO-STATIC C 54
signed, titled and dated 1963 on the reverse
polyvinyl on masonite
181 by 120.5 cm. 71 1/4 by 47 1/2 in.
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Provenance

Galerie Denise René, Paris 

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010

Exhibited

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge, 1964

Literature

Nicole Leblanc and Danielle Everarts de Velp-Seynaeve, Walter Leblanc, Catalogue Raisonné, Bruges 1997, p. 204, no. 592, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1963, Torsions Mobilo-Static C 54 is wholly paradigmatic of Walter Leblanc’s critical search for a new dimension in painting. Vital to the birth of kinetic art in Europe, Leblanc shared the influential ZERO group’s desire to challenge the limitations of two dimensional painting and its illusions of space through an exploration of colour, material, and structure. Breaking away from the popular Art Informel movement, Leblanc established the art collective G 58 in 1958, a group of young Belgian artists in Antwerp that rejected traditional art techniques by using unconventional materials such as cotton, plastic, yarn, sand, and glue to create dynamic surfaces.

In 1959 Leblanc began his iconic Torsions – the key body of work that would come to define his practice. Created from polyvinyl strips fastened onto stretchers, the Torsions catch and reflect light to produce exquisite effects that alternate and modify, imbued with an autonomy and life of their own through a dialogue with ambient space. Changes in lighting impart an almost distortive and vertiginous effect that borders concurrent developments in Op art as pioneered by Bridget Riley during the early 1960s. As Leblanc explained: “Giving a third dimension to the surface was a constant concern and this was achieved by rotating the surface on itself […] The torsion allowed me to fractionate the light in an ordered and controlled manner without having to revert to an écriture of paint like Van Gogh’s brushwork” (Walter Leblanc cited in: Nicole Leblanc and Danielle Everarts de Velp-Seynaeve, Walter Leblanc. Catalogue Raisonné, Ghent 1997, p. 34).

Leblanc’s creative use of material to alter perceptions of space and tempt the viewer to question the illusive reality of the dynamic surface chimes with key tenets of the ZERO group and correlates to the work of contemporaries, such as Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, and Jesús Rafael Soto. They shared the common goal of redefining art through an exploration of light, motion, space, and material. Notably, Leblanc’s Torsions were exhibited alongside works by key members of the ZERO movement throughout the 1960s, including an exhibition at the Galerie Schindler in Bern in 1962; the McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery in London in 1964; the exhibition Structures Vivantes at the Redfern Gallery, London, in 1964; as well as the exhibition Zéro Avant-garde at Fontana’s studio in Milan in 1965.

A skilled amateur of Jazz music, Leblanc viewed his individual works as stages of development in a succession of evolution, similar to a musical expression in which a sequence of notes, tones, and chords form the melody which the composer wants listeners to remember. Torsions Mobilo-Static C 54 demonstrates the sophisticated fruition of Leblanc’s Torsions, as the rhythmic oscillation of contrasting hues of black, white, and yellow explores the tension between depth and flat surface.

In Context Italian Art

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London